Use of the medical ethics consultation service in a busy level I trauma center: Impact on decision-making and patient care

Laura S. Johnson, Jason Lesandrini, Grace S. Rozycki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The purposes of this study were to assess reasons for consultation of the Ethics Consultation Service for trauma patients and how consultations impacted care. We conducted a review of ethics consultations at a Level I trauma center from 2001 to 2010. Data included patient demographics, etiology of injury, and timing/type of the consult, categorized as: shared decision-making, end-of-life, privacy and confidentiality, resource allocation, and professionalism. Consultations were requested on 108 patients (age mean, 46.5 ± 20 years; Injury Severity Score mean, 23 ± 14; length of stay [LOS] mean, 44 ± 44 days), 0.50 per cent of all trauma admissions. Seventy-seven per cent of consultations occurred in the intensive care unit. End of life was the most common consultation (44%) followed by shared decision-making (41%). Average time to consultation was 25 days. Shared decision-making consults occurred much earlier than end-of-life consults as evidenced by a lower consult day/LOS ratio (consult day/LOS = 0.36 ± 0.3 vs 0.77 ± 0.3, P = 0.0001). Conclusions consisted of: 1) ethics consultation on trauma patients are most commonly for end-of-life and shared decision-making issues; 2) most ethics consultations occur while patients are in the intensive care unit; and 3) earlier ethics consultations are likely to be for shared decision-making issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-740
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Volume78
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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